How does one go about caring for their mental well-being during the holiday season? While some individuals thrive during the holiday chaos, there are a few who find their stress, anxiety, and personal boundaries taking a backseat to the demands of others, turning what is often dubbed "the most wonderful time of the year" into a less-than-joyous experience. In this month's blog, we will explore the concept of self-care during the holidays and its significance to each of us.
When we mention self-care, what exactly do we mean? It can encompass a variety of practices tailored to your own needs. This might include unwinding with a soothing hot bath, setting clear boundaries with friends and family, or adhering to a well-structured schedule that suits your preferences. Let's explore some ways to safeguard your mental well-being during the holiday season.
It's a customary part of the holiday season to be in the company of family and friends, but at times, these gatherings can become overwhelming. Setting boundaries is a crucial tool for ensuring your well-being, both at home and during social events where you might require some extra support to maintain your peace. Utilize phrasing like "You're welcome to visit, but the kids need to be in bed by 7 PM" or "We'd love to join, but we can only stay for an hour". It's important to establish these boundaries in advance of the holiday season to reduce pressure later. Remember to stand firm in your decisions by sticking to the limits you have set.
Preventing Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion can result from life's stressors overwhelming you. You can alleviate this by taking moments for personal reflection and self-care. Consider having a quiet coffee break away from the hustle and bustle of family gatherings, journaling after everyone else has gone to bed, or indulging in a long, relaxing soak in the bath.
Use the HALT method to check in with yourself multiple times per day -
Have you ever heard of the grounding technique? This approach can be highly effective for those experiencing anxiety. Engaging in the 5-4-3-2-1 technique can help you regain calmness in the moment. As you identify each item, vocalize it while focusing on your breathing. Find 5 things you can see – with the holiday season underway (for example look for red or green patterns and objects you've never noticed before). Discover and touch 4 things you can feel (consider the texture of your clothing or identify anything soft). Identify 3 things you can hear (perhaps you can hear the wind or a favorite song). Find 2 things you can smell (can you detect an air freshener or the scent of freshly mowed grass?). Lastly, find 1 sweet thing you can taste, whether it's a piece of gum or a freshly baked cookie.
It's Okay to Buy That Apple Pie
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, there's a great deal of cooking to be done, and the pressure to create everything from scratch can be overwhelming. Does the mere thought of it stress you out? It's perfectly acceptable to ask friends and family if they'd like to contribute something or even consider purchasing certain items. Transform it into a collaborative effort rather than an individual burden.
Let's be honest, there will be moments of stress during the holiday season, but try to focus on the humor or the whimsical aspects of minor frustrations and mistakes. Find the positive aspects in stressful situations; one day, they'll make great stories to share around the dinner table. Keep your eye on the goal: spending quality time with your loved ones and having a positive holiday experience throughout the season.
Give yourself the grace and freedom to prioritize your mental well-being during the holidays. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup, so taking time to recharge and replenish yourself can help ease overwhelming moments. Give yourself permission to have a wonderful holiday experience, even if that means not making an apple pie from scratch!
Casey Medlin, Office Manager